This is the first in The Cities Series, a PostTV recurring feature that narrates stories on the ground in urban America beyond the Beltway.
When the Motor City Mapping Project surveyed Detroit, parcel by parcel — all 375,000 of them — it counted 78,506 buildings last year in varying stages of decay. These were homes and offices where the utilities had been disconnected, where the last occupants had long ago stopped paying city taxes, or where the walls and roofs were starting to give. All of this blight has become a defining feature of this city, a sign from afar of its massive struggles decades in the making.
But for many people — determined Detroit natives and out-of-towners lured by a challenge — all of this abandoned property has offered a unique opportunity. Through county auctions and the region's land bank, sturdy — sometimes stately — old homes are available in Detroit for as little as a few thousand dollars. Willing buyers just need time, patience and rehabbing skills. In the below video, we follow one buyer, 24-year-old Darin McLeskey, who grew up west of Detroit, as he invests in several of these properties and begins to contemplate what they could become.